Monthly Archives: October 2012


Those of you familiar with these pages and my writing style surely know by now that I am prone to florid hyperbole and literary detours, but please bear with me when I state:

Today I present to you just about the best new song I’ve heard all year.

A few years back I worked as the doorman for The 55 Bar, a relatively small basement club in Greenwich Village that tended to host some of the most talented musicians in the modern scenes of jazz, blues, and the variegated spectrum between the two. Now, the roster of tremendous talent that frequented this establishment is something I will certainly get around to featuring in these pages. However, my nights there generally consisted of crowd control, selling tickets, setting up the stage and equipment, negotiating both the junkies shambling from Christopher Park across the street and the over-stimulated homosexuals from the surrounding clubs, listening to some of the most extraordinary live music of my lifetime, and drinking my weight in Maker’s Mark.

That doorway next to the stairs is where you could find me huddled through most long winter nights.

Club Helsinki. 405 Columbia Street. Hudson, New York 12534

Now, flash-forward to this past June 7th, when I attended the “A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Levon Helm” tribute concert at Club Helsinki in Hudson, NY.

I must say that the major draw for me was that a contemporary songwriter whose work I love, Elvis Perkins, was scheduled to perform. He did not disappoint as he happened to play a rendition of one of my favorite The Band songs—Music from Big Pink outtake: “Yazoo Street Scandal” (featured here for my own Helm tribute).

Although I was familiar by name only with the majority of performers listed—The Felice Brothers, Shivaree’s Ambrosia Parsley, The New PornographersA.C Newman, Diamond Doves (who are the “Dearland” component of Elvis Perkins in Dearland), Elegant Too, and others—that night featured various configurations of these musicians performing spirited renditions of Helm tunes together. The sense of camaraderie on stage was magnificent, permeating the venue, and leaving the crowd with the impression that they experienced something joyful, which—regardless of many a band’s obvious talent—is something too rarely experienced at a concert these days. This sentiment perfectly complimented the democratic spirit of Levon Helm’s music.

Now, while my wife and I watched the show from the stage’s edge (and by the wobbly video above you can tell we were dancing and singing along too), there was one talented player who was incredibly familiar: A lanky-limbed kid with a chin and nose made prominent through contrast with a thick black mustache and chops, who continually switched from being a member of the horn section to playing the piano, and occasionally conducting the crowd while singing lead. My Wife (who also worked at The 55) and I were convinced that this kid must’ve played there—most likely alongside the singular saxophonist David Binney, was my guess. So as the show ended we approached him and as it turns out, he was not a performer at The 55, but a regular: one of those young students who, despite their good manners and apparent respect for the music, always mildly annoyed the servers; annoyed because, with these customers’ steady penchant for only ordering coffee, soda, and tea, the bartenders knew there was not much of a tip headed their way. However, after catching up through a brief but humorous chitchat (during which he displayed a cheerful demeanor and a gracious acceptance of each compliment) I knew that this kid named Adam Schatz was someone worth cocking an ear towards in the future.

With his words and mannerisms marked by an affable bounce, Adam Schatz explained that he was responsible for arranging all the horns that evening, and (after first being sure to give the majority of the credit to the event’s organizer and Diamond Doves’ drummer, Nick Kinsey) that the show itself was in part presented through the non-profit organization he founded: Search & Restore. As he states on the organization’s website, it is “committed to bringing the artists and audiences of new jazz and improvised music together in new ways, while never forgetting it’s DIY roots.” In a sense the organization operates as a promotional tool and resource for a whole slew of talented artists, but to my mind it seems to exist as well to remind the world that the culture of Jazz need not be relegated to archives and museums. It need not be a relic, xanthous with age and only admired through the protective glass of static sentiment and tradition. Music is a protean organism, it declares, and one that can be fully enjoyed out there this very night. In other words, as he stated when speaking to Ben Ratliff for The New York Times in 2010: “My mission is to bring people together around art. We don’t care who you are or how old you are. We just want you to get down.”

It was this very same positive attitude that made me wish to explore his music further. As it turns out, he seems to be pretty prolific, and certainly busy. Along with running Search & Restore, he participates in numerous music projects, including the Brooklyn based twelve-piece afrobeat group, Zongo Junction; the nine-piece psychedelic soul band, The Shoe Ins; playing self-described “zombie Jazz” with the band Father Figures; and the “melodic mayhem” of the improvisational duo Blast Off!; as well as performing solo under the moniker of Mrs. Adam Schatz (in honor of his “invisible and imaginary wife”). Catching a show of the latter this past Saturday, I must say these solo shows are incredibly amusing, filled with spirited asides, improvisation, and audience participation. In addition to all this he recently informed me that he would be joining the brilliantly idiosyncratic band, Man Man.

  (photo by Sasha Arutyunova, 2011). Landlady:

However, today’s song comes from yet another group of his, Landlady. This six-piece group is a dynamic exploration of what can be achieved through the big fun of pop music. Released as a digital single this past month of September, “Above My Ground” is, as I stated above, just about the best new song I’ve heard all year. Delicately constructed, each element of the song is flawlessly implemented to arouse sincere pathos in the listener. It does so without resorting to plunging into the emotional schlock and pompous mewling many pop groups rely on in the hopes of receiving a little empathy in response to their disingenuously contrived ballad. Exquisitely hypnotic—through its ambient chiming, martial drumming, and the warm yelp of Schatz’s vocal, alternately ascending and descending the steps of each phrase in perfect rhythm, there is a true human quality to this song. This is a current I hear in the majority of his music; even considering certain reeling heights of dissonance, or the more manic Muppet moments of some of the compositions, the listener always gets the sense that there is an actual person there behind the curtains of these sounds. This quality is particularly evident as the song builds towards the chant of its crescendo; a chant that—to paraphrase his words when encouraging the audience to sing-along—is meant to be shouted at the heavens so that things can be OK, at least for the moment.

Below are the two videos the group released for this song, each with its own organic focus. I leave it up to you to decide which one you prefer, but with a song this infectious, I recommend you play one, wait a few minutes and then play the other.

 LANDLADY- “Above My Ground” (Official Vegetable Music Video, directed by Adam Schatz & Thomas White):

LANDLADY- “Above My Ground” (Official Human Music Video, directed by Lance Steagall)

Above My Ground” by Landlady.

Recorded at the Bunker Studio by Jacob Bergson and by Adam Schatz in his basement, mixed and mastered by Tom Tierney at Spaceman Sound.

Written by Adam Schatz, intro written by Ian Davis.

Adam Schatz- Vocals, Farfisa, Realistic concertmate

Renata Zeiguer- Violin, Vocals

Tom Tierney- Guitar

Ian Davis- Bass

Ian Chang- Drums, Guitar

Booker Stardrum- Drums

You can learn more about Landlady, purchase their music, and listen to this song’s b-side (a sultry cover of the Pixies’Oh My Golly”) all here::

I highly recommend you attempt to catch a live show by Adam Schatz in one of his various musical incarnations, and in fact it appears that due to his hectic schedule, Landlady will be playing their final show of 2012 at 9pm on Saturday, November 3rd at Pine Box Rock Shop, located at 12 Grattan St., Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Adam Schatz (photo by Sasha Arutyunova, 2011).

You can experience a bit more of Adam Schatz and his music here, and here,

So, Adam Schatz is certainly someone to look out for in the future, but much more than that, he’s someone to listen to right now.

——————————— —  —   –

P.S. As an added bonus (and perhaps to act as a final testament to how much I’m digging this tune right now), here’s Mrs. Adam Schatz performing “Above My Ground” solo at the NYC club, Le Poisson Rouge on September 7th, 2012.

———————————BOBBY CALERO—————————– – — –


Calero, R. [LacreoCalero]. (2012, Oct. 26). Adam Schatz, Elvis Perkins, Diamond Doves (and others) performing The Band’s “Ophelia.” [Video file]. Retrieved from

Calero, R. [LacreoCalero]. (2012, Oct. 26). Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Yazoo Street Scandal. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Ratliff, B. (2010, December 3). Sample Sale: Growing a Jazz Audience. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Schatz, A. (2012). About Search & Restore. Retrieved from

Schatz, A. [AdamLouisSchatz ]. (2012, Sep 26). LANDLADY- ‘Above My Ground’ (Official Human Music Video). [Video file]. Retrieved from

Schatz, A. [AdamLouisSchatz ]. (2012, Sep 24). LANDLADY- ‘Above My Ground’ (Official Vegetable Music Video). [Video file]. Retrieved from

Schatz, A. [AdamLouisSchatz ]. (2012, Sep 11). Mrs. Adam Schatz- Above My Ground. [Video file]. Retrieved from

Schatz, A. & Davis, I. (2012). Above My Ground [Recorded by Landlady] On Above My Ground [Digital Single]. (2012).


If asked what it is about Bob Dylan’s art that makes me so obsessed I would surely reply something to the effect of—with my love and fascination for both the poetic malleability of the English language and that strange alchemy in which an artist shapes the air to create sound, and in turn grants these sounds form and meaning through arrangement, thus the creation of music, of song—one cannot help but be enraptured by a genius of this craft. However, my passion for Dylan’s work goes far beyond being marveled by one’s skill at a particular task. It is as if the man can interpret what happens to vibrate within my heart, mind, and spirit at any given moment. I am not speaking of any concrete definition for a certain set of an assortment of agreed upon symbols; I am not speaking of no more than what words mean and the specific tale they tell in any individual song. What I am trying to convey is beyond that, or perhaps beneath. It is a matter of timbre and tone, of phrasing, color, nuance, and sentiment; and, as expressed by the poet Yusef Komunyakaa, it is a matter of the “innuendo under the skin of language” (2012).

This is no claim that this man has endeavored to write a fact-checked biography of my emotional state or inner-life. What I speak of is a mystery. To appropriate an idea by the artist and scientist Bern Porter—it is the harmonious mystery of what occurs when plasma encounters plasma:

One of Bern Porter’s “Founds”

“Your plasma has your name and its up to you to fulfill your

name. And however you may feel, doubt or question whether

you’re negative or positive, you must believe in yourself. I have

this, it is mine, it was given to me, I believe in it, however many

flaws, however many errors, however many wrong decisions,

however many negatives, I have this, I am positive about it. I

will radiate it and if there’s someone who receives, fine, they are

radiating, let us hope their radiation corresponds with mine


Bern Porter (Melnicove, 2009).

With Dylan, it is the obvious precision and concentration that his songs must demand of their creator, but it is also so much more than that. With Dylan, it is performance. To paraphrase something he once stated in an interview a long time ago, he is both a song and a dance man. And as it should be with all great music, these things speak to me—of me.

As I find myself unable to articulate with pinpoint precision all that I am trying to communicate, I’ll recede behind the two long quotations that follow. I know that the crux of what I am getting at dwells somewhere within (and is waiting to be extracted, by a mind more incisive than mine certainly, to be served up as an elucidating parallel) these passages from the first segment of Marcel Proust’s seven volume novel, Remembrance of Things Past—1913’s Swann’s Way:

Presumably the notes which we hear at such moments tend

to spread out before our eyes, over surfaces greater or smaller

according to their pitch and volume; to trace arabesque designs,

to give us the sensation of breath or tenuity, stability or caprice.

But the notes themselves have vanished before these sensations

have developed sufficiently to escape submersion under those

which the following, or even simultaneous notes have already

begun to awaken in us. And this indefinite perception would

continue to smother in its molten liquidity the motifs which

now and then emerge, barely discernible, to plunge again and

disappear and drown; recognized only by the particular kind of

pleasure which they instill, impossible to describe, to recollect,

to name; ineffable;[…].


[…] the field open to the musician is not a miserable stave of seven

notes, but an immeasurable keyboard (still, almost all of it, unknown),

on which, here and there only, separated by the gross darkness of its

unexplored tracts, some few among the millions of keys, keys of tenderness,

of passion, of courage, of serenity, which compose it, each one differing from

all the rest as one universe differs from another, have been discovered by

certain great artists who do us the service, when they awaken in us the emotion

corresponding to the theme which they have found, of showing us what richness,

what variety lies hidden, unknown to us, in that great black impenetrable night,

discouraging exploration, of our soul, which we have been content to regard as

valueless and waste and void.

Mural on Kenmare Street, NYC by CNNCTD+.

“Blood Tempest” by Charlie Forrester of Freehands Creations, inspired by the “rich […] thematic imagery and symbolism” of Dylan’s latest LP.

On Bob Dylan’s brilliant new studio album (and 35th overall), Tempest, there is a little gem of a lament titled, “Long and Wasted Years.” I write “little” as on an album comprised of songs that generally run near the six-minute mark or more, with it’s run-time of three minutes and forty-seven seconds, “Long and Wasted Years” is one of the more concise offerings to be found. As with the majority of these new Dylan compositions, this is a meticulously crafted song that utilizes melodic repetition to create both momentum and tension. As there is no chorus or refrain, in this instance he employs a descending guitar riff that chimes out mournfully through each verse.

This song resides in that soft but certain territory beyond love and beyond hate. There are no good-guys or bad-guys, no exact right or wrong. There is no victor here spitting insults, only two incompatible losers not only stuck with regret and heartache, but also seemingly still stuck together. Featuring refined, forlorn phrasing and enunciation that skillfully convey the restrained anger and impotent sorrow (or, interchangeably, restrained sorrow and impotent anger) of a wounded marriage, it is not hard to imagine this song sequenced on his masterpiece of hurt feelings from 1975, Blood On The Tracks. In fact, this song fades in mid-riff as if this melancholy litany has been going on for quite some time now—far too long actually—until it all abruptly ends as Dylan arrives at the title with the lines: “So much for tears/So much for these long and wasted years.” Honest in its inability to point a finger directly at one or the other, this song perfectly captures the perplexing truth that with love-gone-wrong there is room for remorse without the definitive weight of guilt.

On his album, The Times They Are a-Changin’, released in January of 1964, a twenty-two-year-old Dylan sang, “You’re right from your side, I’m right from mine/We’re both just one too many mornings, An’ a thousand miles behind.” Here, in “Long and Wasted Years” we receive a similar lament from a man who can not only still empathize with the complexities of romantic relationships and matters of the heart, but give them voice as well. Albeit, now it arrives void of the wounded vanity of a romantic young man, but with the sullen comprehension that seeps in with maturity: Sour hearts and sorrow do not need culprits, only victims. Another major distinction from the younger man’s work is here there is no sense of theatrical finality. His use early on of the open-ended word Maybe, seems to permeate throughout the entire song’s atmosphere.

“Is there a place we can go, is there anybody we can see?


 It’s the same for you as it is for me?”

I write “open-ended” to not only signify the ambiguous nature of the word itself, but for the questions the word’s placement in the lyric leaves unanswered: Does it belong to the anterior statement, the line that follows, or maybe both?

In fact, it is this Maybe that serves as an engine, not only for this tune’s lyrics, but as what has driven this couple through these long years.

A still from the music video for Tempest’s opening track, “Duquesne Whistle.”

Now, I could have employed the rambling preamble above for any number of Dylan’s compositions, but today it’s like this:

Tempest, back cover

—————————————-(CLICK TO LISTEN

Like it? Buy it.

——————————————–Bobby Calero—————————


Dylan, B. (2012). Long and Wasted Years. [Recorded by Bob Dylan] On Tempest. Columbia [CD] 2012.

Dylan, B. (1963). One Too Many Mornings. [Recorded by Bob Dylan] On The Times They Are a-Changin’. Columbia [CD] 1964.

Komunyakaa, Y. (Winter, 2012). On The Edge of Diminished Light. Oxford American, (75), 109.

Melnicove, M. (Spring, 2009). Bern Porter: A Found Essay. Esopus, (12), 30.

Proust, M. (1928). Swann’s Way. (C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Trans.). New York: The Modern Library. (Original work published 1913).


“Les Alyscamps: Falling Autumn Leaves, 2” by Vincent van Gogh, November 1888

Today’s post comes as an addendum to the last, as I have not been able to get this song out of my head lately. This past weekend I was fortunate to travel upstate for an afternoon fishing trip, as the leaves had just begun to turn colors, dressing up the scenery quite nicely. While my wife and buddy cast their lines out into the rushing current and his wife fed their newborn baby girl, I sat on the smooth stone banks reading Peter Guralnick’s engaging article about Howlin’ Wolf from this past winter’s Oxford American, their “Thirteenth Annual Southern Music Issue.”

I’ve often thought that there may be one common denominator

for all great music, and that is its capacity to bring a smile to your

lips. It’s not the subject matter. And it doesn’t really have much to

do with mood. It’s the commitment to the moment. It’s what Sam

Phillips called throwing yourself into the music with abandon

(Guralnick, 2012).

            Just as I read these lines I paused to glance into the clear, blue sky and watch a Turkey Vulture glide in concentric circles on the thermal currents up above. My eyes then spied the only other object moving overhead: a solitary yellow leaf spinning in the distance and lilting on a gentle breeze. Certainly long enough to notice, it seemingly danced in place. I watched for a moment more only to witness this little, yellow leaf abruptly plummet directly down into my glass of beer.

—When you’re tumbling down, you just look better—

[Note: In order to focus upon just the one featured song, this is a condensed version of what will be a larger post concerned with this stage of Iggy Pop’s career.]

Today’s feature comes from Iggy Pop’s phenomenal album of 1977, Lust For Life. The second LP that he would release that year, this album also marked his second collaboration with David Bowie (excluding Bowie’s mixing work for The Stooges’ final album, 1973’s appropriately titled, Raw Power). Although these two artists entered into a working relationship when both had been reduced into fairly unhealthy neurotics from years of excessive substance abuse (and in Bowie’s case, I’m sure the manic rate at which he not only produced music but continually re-conceptualized his entire approach to his craft contributed greatly to this as well), their joint relocation to Berlin would prove to be the onset of one of the most fecund periods in either man’s career.

David Bowie and Iggy Pop, Copenhagen Railway Station, 1976

In April of ’77, nearly immediately after coming off a tour that promoted their first collaboration, The Idiot, Iggy and Bowie entered Hansa By The Wall Studios in Berlin to record a follow-up. For “The Idiot World Tour” Bowie had momentarily slowed the pace of his own career by relegating himself with little fanfare to a supporting role as the organ player for Iggy’s live band and occasionally singing backing vocals.

The sessions for Lust For Life would be completed in a mere eight days and the album itself finished in under three weeks—impressive, as they entered the studio with very few (if any) true arrangements for any of the compositions. Iggy must have enjoyed being the main attraction while on tour, as he made a concerted effort to take the more dominant role for these sessions, sleeping little and often tailoring or outright disregarding Bowie’s input to meet his own vision for the album. “See, Bowie’s a hell of a fast guy,” Iggy later commented, “I realized I had to be quicker than him, otherwise whose album was it gonna be? (Pegg, 2000), and “The band and David would leave the studio to go to sleep, but not me (Griffin, 2012). He must have sensed that his faculty for whirlwind creativity and spontaneous songwriting had been somewhat taken advantage of the first go-around; a lab-rat/mad-scientist dynamic being something to which Bowie admitted years later:

Poor Jim, in a way, became a guinea pig for what I wanted

to do with sound. I didn’t have the material at the time, and I

didn’t feel like writing at all. I felt much more like laying back

and getting behind someone else’s work, so that album was

opportune, creatively (Loder, 1989).

However, ultimately this was a mutually beneficial relationship, as Pop’s shambled career had been revitalized and thrust into the mainstream, while Bowie had been significantly inspired enough to end the decade on a high-note with his ingenious “Berlin Trilogy.”

Yet, Lust For Life truly does come across as a wholly different animal than its predecessor. The Idiot is a sonically ambitious album, primarily concerned with atmosphere.

It is a projection of harsh neon upon the slate-grey façade of an industrial-park-nightclub, featuring twitch-&-glitch guitars and synths pulsing and scouring through viscous funk and robotic cabaret; all while Pop’s strung-out baritone—sounding like the ghoul of some forgotten ’50s crooner who refuses to quit the scene, despite being dead of TB near on a decade now—permeates each tune to its capacity. Whereas The Idiot is the inevitable conclusion for Glam Rock, music for those with bloody noses and barely enough strength left to climb the walls, Lust For Life (as its title suggests) is an album full of vigor, featuring last night’s survivor now willing-and-able to run down any street and dance on any floor. This flavor is perfectly captured by the child-like imp grinning mischievously on the cover photo taken by Andy Kent.

Although the creation of this album generally followed the same formula used when assembling The Idiot—with Bowie suggesting a riff or melody while Iggy would mold these through his (often spur-of-the-moment) lyrical composition as the band expanded upon these components—Lust For Life is much more rooted in the traditional R&B and Rock & Roll of the ’50s and early ’60s, particularly Bo Diddley’s pioneering use of rhythm as melody. However, the predominant distinction between this album and the one prior, despite any particular song’s subject matter or form, is its overwhelming sense of alacrity. With Lust For Life there’s room for Iggy Pop to laugh.

Towards the end of these sessions, someone suggested that the musicians swap instruments. Guitarist Ricky Gardiner manned the drums, while drummer Hunt Sales took the bass from his brother Tony Sales (both being the son of comedian Soupy Sales). Tony switched over to play guitar alongside Carlos Alomar, and soon they found themselves jamming along on a groove created by shuffling around a descending melody that Bowie hit upon on the organ. Presumably inspired by his then girlfriend (and daughter of an American diplomat) Esther Friedmann, Iggy Pop entered the vocal booth and began to spontaneously recite some of his finest imagist lyrics—his true poetic talent for this being typically and grossly overlooked by reviewers who tend to focus on the abrasive, yet admittedly, wholly captivating physicality of his performances. With succinct lines like “A bottle of white wine/ White wine and you,” “A table made of wood,” and “Standing in the snow/You’re younger than you look” Pop perfectly conveys both scene and mood to the listener. Edited down, this vamp would come to be sequenced as the album’s hip-swinging closing track, “Fall in Love with Me.” Although generally considered a minor song by Pop, I believe this track is a perfect example of how his vocals should be recorded: with a bit of vinyl grit, as if he were attempting to sweet-talk you through a megaphone.

I recall watching an interview with Pop shortly after this stage of his career where the interviewer asked what it was that he learned from working with David Bowie. Iggy answered something to the effect of “compromise.” Although he did not elaborate, I’ve always taken that statement to mean that through these collaborations Iggy learned that he did not need to remain an unappreciated, loony-bin proto-punk rocker who bludgeoned his audience with acts of self-mutilation and the relentless, frustrated stomp of his previous musical incarnation; Iggy Pop could retain his artistic integrity and yet still create music that the rest of us, not so maniacally inclined, could dance to too.

Iggy Pop & Esther Friedmann in Berlin, 1977.


Like it? Buy it.

Fall in Love with Me.

You look so good to me

Here in this old saloon

Way back in west berlin

A bottle of white wine

White wine and you

A table made of wood

And how I wish you would

Fall in love with me

You look so good to me

Standing out in the street

With your cheap fur on

Or maybe your plastic raincoat

And your plastic shoes

They look good too

Standing in the snow

You’re younger than you look

Fall in love with me

Fall in love with me

How I wish you would

A table made of wood

And a bottle of white wine

And you-and a bottle of

White wine and you

And when you’re standing

In the street and it’s cold

And it snows on you

And you look younger

Than you really are

I wish you would

Fall in love with me

I wish you would

Fall in love with me

I wish you would

Fall in love with me

I wish you would

Fall in love with me


The way your eyes are black

The way your hair is black

The way your heart is young

There’s just a few like you

Just the kind I need

To fall in love with me

Oh and you look so good

Yes you look so good

A bottle of white wine

A cigarette and you

Here in this saloon

White wine and you

I wish you’d fall in love with me

I wish you’d fall in love with me

’cause there’s

Just a few like you

So young and real

There’s just a few like you

So young and real

Fall in love with me

Fall in love with me

Fall in love with me

Fall in love with me

I wish you would

You look so good

When you’re young at heart

There’s just a few like you

You’re young at heart

Won’t you

Come to this old saloon

Come to my waiting arms

A table made of wood

And I will look at you

’cause you’re so young and pure

And you’re young at heart

You’re young at heart

A bottle of white wine

And when you’re tumbling down

You just look better

When you’re tumbling down

You just look finer

——————————————–Bobby Calero


Griffin, R. (n.d.). Bowiegoldenyears: 1977. Retrieved October 5, 2012 from

Guralnick, P. (2012). Howlin’ Wolf: The Soul of Man. Oxford American.

Loder, K. (1989). Sound and Vision. [CD liner notes].

Pegg, N. (2000). The Complete David Bowie. Reynolds & Hearn: California.

Pop, I., Bowie, D., Sales, T., & Sales, H. (1977). Fall In Love With Me [recorded by Iggy Pop] On Lust For Life. RCA (1977).